Termites In Potted Plants – How To Identify and Get Rid Of!

Termites are known for their ability to survive in a variety of different environments. While they are commonly associated with wood, the species has evolved to also survive in cozy, well-watered, and widely spaced environments, such as potted plants. Despite their ability to adapt to different surroundings, there is still curiosity surrounding whether or not they can live in potted plants.

termites in potted plants

Termites In Potted Plants:

While soil is a must for plants to grow, it can also be a breeding ground for some kinds of termites. Subterranean termites are the kinds that are most likely to live in potted plants because they live underground in moist soil. Termites are constantly spreading and looking for new places to call home, so this puts your potted plants at danger from termites!

If you have termites in your potted plants we suggest using Diatomaceous Earth to kill the termites but won’t harm your plants. Along with this, it’s safe for your family and pets!

Our Recommended Diatomaceous Earth For Termites In Potted Plants!

Do Termites Eat Plants?

Yes, termites will eat plants. Termites eat cellulose which is a plant-based material found in plants, wood, soil material, cardboard, clothing, and a bunch of other materials. Termites are some of the only insects that can actually digest cellulose which means they will eat and digest anything that contains this material.

These termite species are “shy” in nature, and enjoy the coolness of the earth (soil) by hiding underneath as though they were spies. They are usually harmless to the plants if non-woody, and do not eat them. However, should your potted plants begin to die without any obvious reason, then you can begin to suspect termites. That is because they sometimes attack the root of plants while burrowing, which can lead to the death of the entire plant. Find out more about why termites eat wood.

Signs That Termites Live In Your Potted Plant or Potting Soil

You can use these signs to figure out whether you’ve had your potted plant infested by termites.

  1. The plants begin to wilt away
  2. Small holes appear on the surface of the soil
  3. Mud tubes around the pot. These are tunnels through which termites reach the pot and carry food out.
  4. Rotting of leaves; as termite infestation takes place, some parts of the plant are left malnourished
termites in plants

How To Get Rid Of Termites In Potted Plants:

There are many ways to get rid of termites in your potted plants, it just depends on how aggressive you’re willing to be.

I generally recommend starting with natural treatments to ensure your potted plants or flowers aren’t put in danger.

How To Kill Termites In Potted Plants

I always start with Diatomaceous Earth when I’m looking to kill termites inside of potted plants or in potting soil. Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic to humans and pets but dehydrates insects such as termites and kills them!

All you have to do is sprinkle this in the soil and on your infested potted plants. It’s a 100% natural and safe way to kill and repel termites from your potted plants, which is safe to use on vegetables as well.

You can also experiment with a mixture of lemon juice and water, and spray your soil and plants, but I’ve found that diatomaceous earth is much more effective.

How To Prevent Future Termite Infestations In Your Potted Plants:

If you’ve purchased a potted plant or have a house plant, it is best to keep them off the ground because termites have a thing for moist soil. These pests are very sensitive, and one would say they can detect the presence of potted plants from their secret hideout (underneath the ground). Termites will continue to bore holes until they get into your pots and that can leave your pot damaged or destroyed. 

You also want to avoid termite infestation on your potted plants by fixing leaks, filling up wall cracks, getting rid of old books, newspapers, and other items known to attract termites. You can also apply neem oil to the plants from time to time, as it keeps them healthy while driving pests away.

In extreme cases, another option would be to throw out the content of the pot entirely and start a new house plant. While you can still preserve your plant, do not immediately move to replace the soil without proper inspection. Proceed to treat the pot with an insecticide after properly inspecting, then wash with clean water and detergent.

By understanding the signs of termite activity, it will help to keep you aware of infestations and more protected.

Are Termites Bad For Your Garden?

Yes termites can be bad for your garden because termites will eat your plants. Along with this, if termites are in your garden that makes them one step closer to your home which puts your home in danger.

Do Termites Harm Plants?

Yes, termites harm plants. They work their way into the soil and will eat plant roots and the plant itself in search of cellulose which they use a nutrients.

Plants That Attract Termites

Termites are attracted to any type of plant because they have cellulose in them, but they are more likely to be attracted to tropical plants that have higher levels of moisture and softer wood such as Fruit Trees, Palm Trees, Deciduous Trees, as well as dead or rotted trees.

Final Thoughts On Termites And Potted Plants

Termites are first attracted to potted plants by the moisture they contain. They burrow themselves in, thereby creating holes in the pot before initiating an attack on root parts. Several methods of managing them exist and you can use them to protect your potted plant. Termites in potted plants aren’t safe for your home as well as your plants! So you need to act quickly! Check out other termite guides!

Resources:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-017-3223-9_18

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